Skipping class comes at a price for UMass students

By Laura Diamond

Evan Sahagian/Collegian File Photo
Evan Sahagian/Collegian File Photo

For some students, skipping a class here and there might not seem like a big deal when catching up on sleep and assignments become a priority. The truth is, however, that students who skip class may be wasting more money than they think.

The University of Massachusetts charges $2,062 for one credit. This number includes tuition and the mandatory curriculum, service and activities fee. The cost of three credits is $2,205 and the cost of four credits is $2,275.50, according to the Office of the Bursar. Because most students take three- and four-credit classes, this can really add up.

Skipping just one three-credit class that meets three times a week will cost you $52.50, while a four-credit class will cost $54.20. If your class only meets twice a week, it’s even more expensive. Skipping one three-credit class is equivalent to throwing away $78.75, while one four-credit class is like losing $81.30.

But many students remain unaware of these figures when choosing to stay in bed on those early mornings.

Michael Cole, a junior psychology major, said he often skips class for a variety of reasons.

“If I’m tired or I pulled an all-nighter the night before or if I didn’t do the homework for the class then I don’t see the point in going,” Cole said. Recently, Cole said he skipped class to watch the Sochi Olympics.

Anthropology Professor Eric Johnson said he tries to encourage students like Cole to attend class as much as possible. In his lectures, Johnson takes attendance using individual slips of paper on which students sign their names and hand in at the end of class.

With 132 people in Anthropology 208, his system works well enough for him to easily identify which students haven’t been attending the lectures. Johnson said he will send those students an email in the first half of the semester to reiterate that attendance counts toward their grades.

Johnson had a different method when he taught an 8 a.m. class, knowing it would be difficult to get students to attend. As an incentive, those who came to every class got their lowest exam grade dropped.

“I hope others will adopt this system,” Johnson said. “It’s really discouraging to give a lecture to a half-empty room.”

Michael Lombard, a sophomore history major, said he almost always goes to his classes. The only exception, he said, is if the slides are posted online. Similarly, Alex Papas, a freshman biochemistry major, said he tends to skip his morning courses if the lectures are online. However, he’s adamant about attending his classes that use iClickers, as well as his smaller classes.

“I think it’s important to go to smaller classes because the teacher would be more likely to give you a recommendation when you need one,” Papas said.

Ryan Weitz, a teaching assistant for an Accounting 221 discussion section, passes around a sheet of paper for students to write down their names and Spire IDs. He said there are usually only one or two students missing each week out of the 20 in his section.

Alternatively, Biology Professor Ben Normark takes attendance using iClickers. In a lecture hall of roughly 350 students, other methods might prove to be more difficult. However, for Normark, the iClickers aren’t solely an attendance grade.

“We expect people to participate with the clickers so if you don’t show up, you can’t participate,” he said.

Laura Diamond can be reached at [email protected]